One of the secondary benefits of stormwater ponds – after storing and cleaning stormwater runoff – is that the ponds create wildlife habitat. They serve as habitat for birds and insects and breeding grounds of amphibians. Many stormwater ponds in the County also have healthy fish communities.
One of the stormwater ponds with fish is in the Plantations II community in Damascus. This year, the Plantations II stormwater pond is being updated and improved. The updates require the entire pond to be drained of its water before construction can begin.
So you might ask, what happens to all of the fish that live there?
The fish have to be relocated to a new pond – which is easier said than done – especially when the pond is large and DEP staff are only equipped to electrofish small streams.
Moving the fish would be a big test of DEP’s skills and ingenuity. But when it comes to our wildlife friends, DEP does not hide from a challenge!
Before the fish relocation could begin, water had to be pumped out of the pond to create safer conditions for the biologists to work and to concentrate the fish to a smaller area. A smaller area means that staff would have a better chance of catching all of the fish quickly, minimizing stress to the fish.
The mud at the bottom of the pond and around the edges was so soft and deep that our staff weren’t able to stand and electrofish like they normally do. In response, staff got creative and strapped an electrofisher into a canoe.
Working as a team, Eric electrofished the water and Ken caught the fish in a net. The fish were placed into many buckets with aerators and were ready to head to their new home!
Over 500 fish (Bluegills and Large Mouth Bass) were caught and transferred to Theater Pond in Montgomery Village.
For a task that initially seemed impossible, this fish relocation could not have gone smoother – for DEP and the fish.
By Samantha Duthe
Samantha started as an intern with DEP’s summer biological monitoring program and now supports the Department full time, including outreach and education. Samantha loves teaching others about County wildlife.